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Charles Buck Theological Dictionary
A Christian who has made a solemn and resolute profession of the faith, and has endured torments in its defence. A mere saint is called a confessor, to distinguish him from the roll of dignified saints, such as apostles, martyrs, &c. In ecclesiastical history, the word confessor is sometimes used for martyr; in after times it was confined to those who, after having been tormented by the tyrants, were permitted to live and die in peace; and at last it was also used for those who, after having lived a good life, died under an opinion of sanctity. According to St. Cyprian, he who presented himself to torture, or even to martyrdom, without being called to it, was not called a confessor but a professor; and if any out of want of courage abandoned his country, and became a voluntary exile for the sake of the faith, he was called exterris. Confessor is also a priest in the Romish church, who has a power to hear sinners in the sacrament of penance, and to give them absolution. The confessors of the kings of France, from the time of Henry IV. have been constantly Jesuits; before him, the Dominicans and Cordeliers shared the office between them. The confessors of the house of Austria, have also ordinarily been Dominicans and Cordeliers, but the latter emperors have all taken Jesuits.
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Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Confessor'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/c/confessor.html. 1802.